Tip & How-To about Cameras

Card Locked Error and how to fix it

Sometimes when you insert a memory card into your computer , you may get a message saying that the card needs to be formatted or that the card is locked. This is called the Card Locked Error and can be caused mainly by four reasons :

  1. Card is not compatible with your camera
  2. Write protection on the card
  3. A card error
  4. A problem with the card reader in the camera itself

In this tutorial , we will cover these four causes and how to fix it, but before you start these procedures, ensure if at all possible that all data on the card that needs to be kept is backed up.

REASON NO 1 - Card is not compatible with your camera

When SD cards were implemented , it was planned that the max capacity would be 2Gb. But in 2007 , the SDHC card which ranges from 2Gb to 32Gb was introduced to the market. These two standards only differ slightly and are even of the same design but a SDHC card will not work in a camera which only supports SD cards.

A good rule of thumb is :

  • If your camera was made in 2007 it will not be compatible
  • If your camera was made in 2008 , it might be compatible so check it out online (CLICK HERE) or ask someone on Fixya.
  • If your camera was made after 2008 , it will probably be SDHC compatible.
If you are unsure whether your device is compatible , go to THIS SANDISK PAGE and use the compatibility tool on the right to check. Most products are listed here.

If you are still unsure , check the manual and packaging of your device and look for the SDHC logo which looks like this :

The normal SD logo looks like this one on the bottom and if displayed alone means that your camera only accepts SD cards.

For more information about this , see this PDF file from SANDISK explaining the differences between SD and SDHC.

REASON NO 2 - Write protection on the card

SD and SDHC cards normally have a function for locking or protecting the card. This is to guard against overwriting or deleting data you did not intend to delete. To unlock the card do the following :

  • Remove the card from the camera or device.
  • Locate the write protection or lock switch.

  • Move the lock/protection switch to the top position like on the card shown in the image.
  • Reinsert the card into the device and use.

REASON NO 3 - A card error

This error can mainly be diagnosed by placing the sd/sdhc card into another camera for testing. If the other camera works fine , it's your camera.

If the card also does not work on the other camera , it's your memory card at fault.

This is normally due to a failed memory module in the card and cannot be repaired.

REASON NO 4 - A problem with the card reader in the camera itself

If the card works in another camera . the problem is with your card reader in your camera.

If you open you SD slot of your device and look inside with a sharp light, you should be able to see on the left side of the slot there is a little copper or spring steel lever switch.

This switch work as follows:

  • 1. When no card is inserted / no write protection , the switch is open and thus the protection is switched off.

  • 2. When a locked card is inserted , the tab is depressed into the opening in the sd card completing a electric circuit and tells the camera that the card is locked.

Contrary to popular belief ,the little tab on the SD card is not an electronics witch and does not physically influence the card operation itself. If you put a locked card into a camera without a SD lock switch , you would still be able to use the card normally.

What normally happens is that over time this switch bends and eventually closes the protection circuit even when the card inserted is not protected.

It is difficult to fix this switch because of space limitations in the SD card slot.

Look into the SD slot and if you can see the switch , use a sewing needle or a toothpick to pull the little tab back toward the base of the camera by about 1mm being careful not to bend it. If this does not work , try bending it back by a little bit . If this does not solve the problem ,try bending it slightly more either to the back or to the front.

If this does not resolve your problem , there might be a short in the switch circuit and the camera will need to be disassembled to resolve this error. This should cost no more than $50-$150 depending on the camera model.

Go to www.getflashmemory.info for more information relating to this particular problem.

If you would like to get a repair estimate from your camera manufacturer ,please click on the applicable link below for the contact page of your camera manufacturer.

Canon USA
Canon Global

Please rate this tip if you found it useful in diagnosing and fixing your camera or other SD device.

Kind regards

Posted by on

Cameras Logo

Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

When I insert my sd card into my camera it says memory card inserted please change to internal ram.. What will I do?

I think you may mean it says 'no memory card inserted...'etc. but most cameras don't need to say this when there really is no card in place - if there is any internal memory they just switch to it automatically. Perhaps the garbled message is because the card is recognised but unreadable so you might like to try formatting it, either by using the (camera's) menus, or by right clicking the card's icon in the My Computer page (on PC), to bring up the format option

Dec 15, 2010 | Cameras

1 Answer

message says - memory stick not inserted

Dear,just format the card with computer through a card reader and insert the cardinto fone then format the card by ur fone and then check, if problem presists then ur fone's card jacket is not working so then you will need to go to a certified mobile fone repairer to get changed your fone's jacket. its not very expensive..thanks

Apr 06, 2010 | Sony Ericsson Walkman W810i Cellular Phone

2 Answers

motorola k1 cannot format unformatted memory card

sometimes there are sd card errors make you format failed. you may get messages like

"Unsupported media card inserted, format now?" error in your smart phone,
"Media is not formatted would you like to format now?" error,

... ...

you need to fix sd memory card errors first and them format you sd card.

Jun 04, 2009 | Motorola Mobility MOTOKRZR K1 Cellular...

1 Answer

Memory card will not format in phone correctly.

maybe the card is to large for the phone you may need to install a 2gb memory card.

Jun 03, 2009 | Samsung Gravity SGH-T459 Cell Phone

1 Answer

Memory card will not format in phone correctly.

the error message represents that the memory of the phone is low or it is software problem get it a software update from samsung service center

Jun 03, 2009 | Samsung Gravity SGH-T459 Cell Phone

Not finding what you are looking for?

2,344 people viewed this tip

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Cameras Experts

Donald DCruz
Donald DCruz

Level 3 Expert

17130 Answers


Level 3 Expert

82331 Answers

Brad Brown

Level 3 Expert

17473 Answers

Are you a Camera Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions